Fact or Fiction: Composting

Fact or Fiction: Composting
Image: Marina Lohrbach/Getty Images

About This Quiz

The average American household throws away 470 pounds of food waste every year. Sure, composting is the responsible thing to do, but isn't it complicated and labor-intensive? Doesn't it stink up your yard? Take our quiz and find out.
Only 10 percent of the solid waste generated by Americans every year gets recycled.
fact
fiction
False. Twenty-seven percent is recycled, but that's still not very much.
almost fact: It's even lower -- 8 percent.

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The four main things you need for composting are: organic waste, soil, water and air.
fact
True. Microorganisms in the soil (which need oxygen and water) break down the waste to form compost.
fiction
almost fact: You can do without the soil.

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You should never add meat and dairy products to a compost pile because they'll make it smell bad.
fact
fiction
almost fact: You can compost meat and dairy, but only with very careful pile management.
It's true that fatty items like meat and dairy can cause foul odors, but if you manage your pile well, it shouldn't be a big problem.

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Your first compost pile could take almost a year to fully decompose, but after that it'll take about two to three weeks (if you're really efficient).
fact
fiction
almost fact: The time requirement stays about the same for the life of the pile.
It's true that an efficient compost pile can be finished in about two to three weeks, but there's really no difference between your first try and your 50th.

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You should never add human waste to a compost pile.
fact
Yes, steer away from this. Beyond the obvious odor issue, human waste could contaminate the pile with parasites.
fiction
almost fact: A small amount of human waste adds valuable bacteria.

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The optimal ratio of carbon to nitrogen in a compost pile is about 30:1.
fact
That is the correct ratio (and, just so you know, all the cool composters call it C:N ratio). It sounds complicated, but you can consult a list of C:N ratios of common compost-pile ingredients and figure it out from there.
fiction
almost fact: It's 1:30.

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Temperatures in a compost pile can reach 200 degrees Fahrenheit (93 Celsius).
fact
fiction
Compost piles do heat up, but they don't get that hot. The high range is about 100 to 150 degrees F (38 to 66 C).
almost fact: The middle of the pile is that hot, but the outer layers aren't.

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You should turn your compost pile once a week to oxygenate it.
fact
fiction
Nope, you need to turn it every day or every other day to keep things going properly.
almost fact: It's more like every five days.

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If you see gas bubbles on your compost pile, don't worry. That means things are working fine.
fact
The gas bubbles are carbon dioxide is being released, which means that everything is A-OK.
fiction
almost fact: Too many gas bubbles means everything is fermenting.

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Your compost is finished when the pile's volume has gone down about 25 percent and its temperature is below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
fact
fiction
almost fact: It should be 50 to 75 percent smaller.
Almost, but not quite. The pile needs to be reduced by 50 to 75 percent.

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You Got:
/10
Marina Lohrbach/Getty Images

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